Newspapers, televisions, websites. At one time, all these means of communication were new and untested. People said they wouldn’t last, or they were a waste of time. Then they quickly became the preferred method of reaching out to new and existing customers and the advertising world changed. That is what is currently happening with Social media- sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Foursquare. Have you ignored them up until now or are you embracing them in your marketing strategies for 2010?
Many tourism business owners say the same thing- I have no time. I am so busy running my business that I don’t have time to waste online looking at what everyone else is writing on their Facebook page, or tweeting about. However, that is where many of your customers are spending their time. Over 400 million people have a Facebook page and 50% of them check it at least once a day. Here are some other interesting facts about Facebook users:
- The 35-54 year old demographic is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in 2009
- The 55+ demo is not far behind with a 194.3% growth rate
- The 25-34 year population on Facebook is doubling every 6 months
- There are more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook
- The largest demographic concentration remains the college crowd of 18-24 year olds (40.8%) which is down from (53.8%) six months ago.
Twitter is a fast growing application as well. People write short (140 characters or less) sentences, or share links to online information. The perception is that people just write silly things like “I am drinking coffee and reading the paper”. True, some people do, but I suggest getting an account and ‘follow’ people in the tourism industry such as @usatourismboard, @travelmediaguru , @nytimestravel , @sallykberry (that’s me!) and tourism businesses at your destination. You can establish yourself as an expert in your business sector, and have a new way to reach out to customers. Research has shown the websites that have links to Facebook and Twitter accounts are seen as more professional and reliable businesses.
These social media accounts are free and there are many organizations that are currently offering social media courses to help you get started. Set yourself the goal of becoming familiar with these applications before the end of the year and you will be giving your business a competitive advantage.